Largest university employee union reaches tentative pay raise deal

Aug 29, 2013

The largest union of Montana University System employees announced this week a bargain has been reached with the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education over pay raises for the next two years.

The Montana Public Employees Association represents nearly 1700 ‘classified employees’ of the university system. Executive Director Quinton Nyman said the tentative agreement includes the following raises:

·        Effective Oct. 1, 2013: all MPEA bargaining unit members will receive a 46-cent per hour base pay raise.

·        Effective Oct. 1, 2014: all bargaining unit members will receive a 2.25 percent plus 12-cents per hour base pay raise.

Nyman said the University System originally wanted to put in place the 2.25 percent plus 12-cents per hour raise both years, but that would be less impactful to lower wage workers.

"We wanted to see a flat dollar in the first year because the lion's share of our members would be positively affected by that flat dollar increase," he said.

MPEA may be the largest union of University System employees at 1700 workers, but it is only one of 25 different unions in the university system—representing about 5,000 employees in total.

The MPEA bargain must be voted on by the members themselves through a mail ballot.

The Montana Board of Regents will vote on ratifying the agreement during their meeting in mid-September.

The university system received $19 million of a $116 million state employee pay plan passed by the Montana Legislature earlier this year.